The craft of feeling clearly

Our society and culture actively promotes clear thinking.

From an early age through education, and potentially for decades thereafter in the workplace, we are exposed to the necessity of thinking clearly.

Academically and economically, through the curriculum, the schedule, the system, the timetable, the procedure, the process, we are encouraged to engage in clear thinking, and those of us who respond the best to that are rewarded for our skills and talents.

It’s not that thinking clearly is wrong, or even unimportant.

But it’s incomplete.

Society and the culture doesn’t promote clear feeling.

Clear feeling is about the emotions that all of us experience most days and all weeks: sadness, anger, fear, joy, confusion, elation, disgust, contempt, surprise or hope.

As human beings, all of these emotions, and all the rest, are natural, innate, unavoidable.

We are not rewarded for feeling these emotions. Indeed, the opposite can be the case: we can be distrusted or frozen out if we are seen as too prone to emotion.

Feeling clearly is not a panacea. A society that promoted feeling clearly at the expense of thinking clearly would quickly be dysfunctional.

But ask yourself this:

Now, when you look around, how close are we to a society that promotes thinking clearly completely at the expense of feeling clearly?

And would that society also be dysfunctional in many ways?

We feel our emotions in dark rooms or under blankets. We feel our emotions in anonymous support groups or on the therapist’s armchair.

And there is a whole other swathe of humanity that never allows itself to feel.

Because those emotions are present and unavoidable, those of us who do not allow ourselves to feel instead cover up, beat down or thwart those feelings as somehow unfortunate or worse. We drink or do drugs, we binge-watch Netflix or we become addicted to damaging behaviours like gambling, gaming, pornography, online shopping or 80-hour-work-weeks.

It’s not just okay to feel clearly. It’s necessary to feel clearly.

It’s necessary to allow ourselves to feel, and necessary too not judge ourselves mercilessly for the feelings that come up.

Feeling clearly is a craft, and like all crafts, it can be made 1% better each day or each week.

Thinking is the logical part of one powerful organ in action. Feeling occupies other parts of the brain, and it comes also from our gut and from our heart.

Feeling is just as necessary as thinking. So today, give yourself permission to just feel, even for a few moments, and don’t judge yourself too harshly for whatever comes up.